Service Design, 7 weeks
Katie Herzog, Emily Mongilio
Sketch, Invision, After Effects
For my Service Design course at Carnegie Mellon, we were tasked with designing a service that addresses a problem related to music. My team designed Rhythms, a service that improves sleep quality through the intelligent, responsive use of procedurally generated music at home and on the go. See our full process blog on Medium.
Understanding The Problem
After reading research about the positive effects music can have on quality of sleep, we were excited about designing a service that makes leveraging the power of music to improve sleep easily accessible for consumers. To better understand this problem space, we conducted additional secondary research, surveys, competitive analysis, and expert interviews.
Through our secondary research and expert interview with a University of Pittsburgh sleep researcher, we learned a lot about the science of sleep. There are many factors that contribute to “sleep hygiene.“ As we expected, physical environmental factors, like light, sound, and ergonomics, play an important role in quality of sleep. But we also learned about other dietary and cognitive factors that can play into quality of sleep. For example, patients with insomnia are discouraged from reading in bed, as it trains the brain to stay awake while in bed. The big takeaway for us was the importance of developing a sleep routine. If our service can help users develop a routine that promotes good “sleep hygiene,“ we will be able to improve quality of sleep.
Sleep + Travel
In our surveys and secondary research, we discovered a connection between travel and a lowered quality of sleep. Traveling disturbs your sleep routine and introduces new environmental factors, creating an unfamiliar environment that is harder to sleep in. We saw our service as an opportunity to facilitate a consistent, familiar sleep routine that carries through from the home to the hotel.
(Procedurally Generated) Music For Sleep
Through our secondary research and expert interview, we learned more about the ways in which music aids sleep. Numerous academic studies show the positive effects music has on sleep, but a key component is the qualities of the music. Generally, the consensus was that music with low dynamism, majors harmony, and mid-to-low frequencies is ideal for aiding sleep. These factors made us consider procedurally generated music as an option.
Procedurally generated music is music that is composed by taking precomposed snippets of music and and mixing them together based on any number of inputs. Things like tempo, key, and frequency can all be altered. With a system like this, we would be able to generate musically for the exact amount of time necessary, fading it in and out as the user falls asleep or becomes restless (taking input from a sensor on the bed). Also, while there would be upfront cost of composing the music, it would be much cheaper and more effective in the long run than licensing music. We decided procedurally generated music was the solution for our system.
Coming out of our research phase, we had narrowed in on designing a service that allowed users to develop a sleep routine, aided by procedurally generated music, that could be taken on the go. As we were wrapping up our research we were also creating some potential service scenarios to help explore the space.
As we developed this concept further, we continually zoomed in and out from designing the individual touchpoints of the service (mobile app, packaging, hotel TV app, marketing site) and the service experience as a whole. The touchpoint we focused on developing first was the mobile app, which acts as the users “command center” for Rhythms. We generated a wireframe prototype to test with users.
To help us understand the service experience as a whole, we were continually blueprinting the service experience. As we made changes to individual touchpoints, we considered the impact on the larger service experience, which then impacted the other various touchpoints, and so on.
Through iteration and refinement of our concept, we designed a service that consists of a mobile application, physical packaging, a TV app, and brings together users, the hospitality industry, and sleep researchers.
A Rhythms user’s first experience with the service is the physical packaging. When they sign up, they receive a package including their bed sensor and instructions to get started. We designed packaging that plays off of the sleep theme, placing the materials inside a hand-sewn pillow.
The Rhythms mobile app is the command center for the user. Here, they can activate their sleep cycle at night, schedule trips, receive notifications about bedtimes, and review their sleep score data. Invision prototype can be found here.
Once the user receives their Rhythms sensor, the app walks them through syncing up their sensor, going through a 7 day observation period where Rhythms learns your sleep habits, and finally introducing music into their sleep routine.
Each night, the user can initial their sleep routine in the Rhythms app. Procedurally generated music begins to play and fades out when they fall asleep. Throughout the night, Rhythms is taking input from the bed sensor and will fade music back in if the user becomes restless throughout the night. If the user has set an alarm, music gently wakes them at the optimal point in their sleep cycle before their set wakeup time. Users are also occasionally prompted to rate their night of sleep to help Rhythms better calculate a user’s sleep score each night.
Users can view their sleep data in the app. Rhythms calculate a sleep score based on the input from the amount of restlessness throughout the night and the users daily ratings. Users can see these score on a daily, weekly, and monthly range, with varying degrees of detail.
Users can indicate in the Rhythms app when they are going on a trip. If they are traveling to a different time zone, Rhythms will suggest gradually changing bedtimes to prepare the user for their trip. If staying at a participating hotel or Airbnb, Rhythms users can simply sync with the in-room hardware. Guests at participating hotels can also use Rhythms through the in-room sensor and TV app.
While we developed the packaging and the mobile app much more in depth, there were other touchpoints in our service blueprint where we only began to imagine the exact rendering. We designed an example mockup for the Rhythms marketing site, TV app, and researcher portal to help imagine their further implementation.